KARACHI - About 60,000 Pakistani children are born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) every year. Around 25 per cent children, affected with the problem, need surgery or intervention in early life to survive. There is not a single health facility in Balochistan to treat CHD like health problems.

Prof Najma Patel, Head of Paediatric Cardiology, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), and Convener of the committee member of Collage of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, expressed these views while speaking at the 50th public awareness seminar on “Status of Paediatric Cardiology in Pakistan” held at the seminar room of Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi on Wednesday.

Prof Najma Patel said that paediatric cardiology was a very extensive and highly specialized field dealt patients with congenital or acquired cardiac and cardiovascular abnormalities of all ages from foetus to old age. She maintained that care of patients with these diseases not only require paediatric cardiologist but include congenital cardiac surgeon, intensivist and others.

Talking about prevalence of the disease, she said that about 60,000 Pakistani children are born with CHD every year, while about 30,000 Pakistani children are diagnosed with some acquired heart disease like rheumatic heart disease, myocarditis etc. She added that acquired heart disease developed after birth and was less common in children than adults.

Around 25pc children need early surgery to survive

In Pakistan, about 35,000 are going to paediatric cardiology facilities each year, while others are not diagnosed and many of them die without diagnosis even in good hospitals, she lamented, and added that there was a problem of diagnosis and early detection of the disease.

Significant numbers of these are those who can be treated if diagnosed timely, around 25 per cent children need surgery or intervention in early life to survive, she said and added that even if diagnosed, facilities were out of reach. Around 100,000 CHD cases were registered only in NICVD in 2018, which shows the disease prevalence in the country, she said.

The lady cardiologist pointed out that this was twofold problem. On one hand it is related to our primary health care system and lack of awareness and on the other hand shortage of facilities, she said, adding that the available facilities were very limited in the country.

She pointed out that as compared to other provinces there was not a single health facility in Balochistan to treat CHD like health problems.

Describing the NICVD, she said that NICVD was the first Institute of Pakistan to provide Paediatric Cardiology services, where surgeries for CHD were being performed since 1974.

According to international minimum requirement, we need 250 paediatric cardiologist and 150 paediatric cardiac surgeons, she said, adding that NICVD had as many as 35 paediatric cardiologists and 16 paediatric cardiac surgeons.

The lady professor said that there was a need to perform 22000 surgeries each year but only 4000 surgeries were performed every year. We are performing all the procedures that are being performed in the developed world, she said